Thursday, 3 December 2015

Aerocloud Teamhas arrived at Princess Elisabeth station

Quentin and Christian arrived safely last week Friday, early in the morning at 1am, at Utsteinen. Unfortunately, our air cargo boxes carrying several scientific instruments  (like the new MAX-DOAS, the radiosounding equipment or the Laser Aerosol Spectrometer) have not been with them for their flight to Antarctica. The boxes were still in Amsterdam for for us unknown reasons, although they were picked up in time in Belgium. Finally, they arrived end of November in Cape Town, South Africa, and will be flown in by the next Ilyushin cargo flight, scheduled for today. After their arrival, Quentin and Christian checked that the already installed scientific instrumentation worked well, and  that all necessary accessories were there. 

 Measured effective UV Index at Princess Elisabeth station on 30 November 2015
As the weather conditions have been very good the last days, they have already been able to re-install the Brewer ozone spectrophotometer, which measures the total atmospheric column amount of ozone. This year’s ozone hole over Antarctica is one of the largest and total ozone amounts over Dronning Maud Land, the region where also Princess Elisabeth station is located, are still extremely low, between 150 and 200 Dobson units. As ozone protects us against the harmful UV radiation, lower total ozone values mean higher values of the UV index, which reached values up to 12 (!) during the last days. A value above 10 means that unprotected human skin will get sunburned within 10 minutes. At the station, the team members can follow the local UV index evolution in real-time and can thus protect their skin and eyes accordingly. The link to the near-real time UV index at Utsteinen can be found here (if there is no image, then the satellite link to the station is down at that moment). 

 The special cloud bringing very light snowfall and white frost to Utsteinen
But we are not only interested in atmospheric gases, also particles and particularly clouds interest us. A very special one occurred on Saturday, 28 November. In the evening, a close-to-the-ground stratus, resembling to fog, was advected from NE. During the time of its passage, visibility was significantly reduced, light snowfall was present and there was white frost formation. Such white frost formation we have never before experienced at the station, very special thus. The event lasted bit more than 3 hours, and afterwards the white frost sublimated rapidly. The next days, Quentin and Christian will do some necessary calibration and maintenance work of the scientific instrumentation and will welcome the boxes with the other instruments and equipment.